Jax’s prophetic words from last season come true as a member finds themselves in peril while Toric continues his mission to bury SAMCRO by any means necessary and he’s willing to prove that this week…
By Damon Martin — Editor/Lead Writer
When Sons of Anarchy started on Tuesday night the episode picked up with an immediate shot (literally) to a prostitute’s stomach courtesy of a parano
id and trigger happy ex U.S. Marshall named Lee Toric, who has made it perfectly clear he will do anything inside or outside the law to put SAMCRO in the dirt for good. To his credit, Toric shot the woman by accident and did apologize profusely for his error, but the only way to truly silence the ailing hooker was to put her out of her misery while he went to answer the door for the local district attorney who was there to ask for his help in wrangling up the evidence to pin the illegal gun used in the school shooting from a few weeks back on our favorite outlaw motorcyclists.
Right away, I had it resigned in my own head that this recap was going to end up Toric-centric once again because over the course of just a few episodes Donal Logue’s portrayal of this fascinating and disturbing character has captured my imagination. He’s equal parts Jack Torrance, driven mad by his own futility, and Alonzo Harris from Training Day where he has no problem smashing the testicles of a perpetrator who doesn’t want to cooperate. His obsession with SAMCRO borders on lunacy at this point, and he’s slipping further and further with each action he takes that doesn’t draw him closer to crushing the club. What started out as a revenge trip for his dead sister, has now turned into Toric’s only purpose in life and it’s as if his sister’s murder just gave him direction and his internal compass is fueled by hatred and anger, and it’s pointing directly at Jax Teller and the rest of the Sons of Anarchy.
But then another scene popped up on screen that showed Jimmy Smit’s character Nero Padilla entering the confessional at a local Catholic church, while his lover Gemma sat on a pew outside waiting for him to finish. Once Nero said what he needed to say to his priest, he walked out hand in hand with Gemma when she asked him about what went on in that booth.
“How’d it go?,” Gemma said.
“Makes me feel better,” Nero replied
“That’s good. What do you tell him?”
“My sins, mama,” Nero said as he gets a confused look back from Gemma. “In a way.”
“Then what, he sprinkles his magic Jesus water and everybody pretends the bad shit never happened?” Gemma quips
“Yeah, something like that.”
The brief conversation between Nero and Gemma became the central theme as we saw a series of confessionals over the course of the hour plus long episode, and they all followed that same exact model. Everyone had something to confess, but they could only tell it — in a way and they all wanted to forget the bad shit that was about to happen.
The first confessional outside of Nero’s came when Jax finally decided to visit his stepfather in prison. Clay told Toric that if he could produce both his wife and his stepson that he would sign over as cooperator and give the government evidence to bring SAMCRO to its knees. When Jax walked in, Clay had a different idea in mind all together. It’s hard to say if Clay can ever be trusted because he’s burnt so many bridges over the years that his life is literally held together by cinder and ashes, but after watching his wife betray him, his club betray him and his son betray him, it’s almost like something was finally broken inside and he was a beaten man. In this moment, Clay at least appeared truthful when he finally told Jax that he was sorry for everything that he’s done, and his promise to rat was the only way he knew Toric would bring him to the jail.
Whether he bought the apology or not, Jax seemed to have already moved past an emotional connection with Clay. That will generally happen when you’ve set the guy up for murder and sent him to jail with a $5 million bounty on his head, but Jax’s scars run deep. He never knew his own father outside of the letters he became obsessed with after discovering them a couple of seasons ago. Clay, for all his faults and all his wrongdoing, was still the model for what Jax knew as a father for so many years. That connection is hard to break, and in that moment of despair seeing the hurt and agony in Clay’s eyes, maybe Jax wilted just for a minute. Instead of turning his rage towards Clay, Jax instead spoke to a glass-mirrored wall where he knew Toric was looking in on the room. Jax gave his sympathy for Toric’s sister, but promised if he came after his wife again that this situation would become very personal to him as well. Toric never flinched and never batted an eye, and his mission won’t be done until either he’s dead or the Sons are buried.
What Clay’s apology to Jax did buy him was a one-way ticket back to general population at the Stockton prison where a gang loyal to Damon Pope will be waiting for him. It’s in this moment that Clay has just given up and knows he’s about to meet his doom. The second he shows up a door closes and three large men enter the room, and while he does his best to fight them off (much like Opie did last season), the numbers were too great and Clay was ready to meet his maker. The gang says whether Clay lives or dies is up to him, and a few minutes later we see the former SAMCRO president make it into the yard where he’s greeted by members of an Aryan brotherhood that may be able to offer him protection. The real deception here is what Clay is made to do because in the middle of a fight, he pulls a shiv from under his shirt and proceeds to slam it into the neck of one of the tattooed Nazi’s that we were made to believe had been summoned to protect him in the jail yard. Clay is thrown back into solitary and given another shiv by a black inmate for protection because he’s probably going to need it. More on why this happened later…
The women in Jax’s life have gone through hell and back — some by choice and some by circumstance. For Tara, she chose to re-enter a life with him after separating from each other years earlier. Maybe it was the abuse she suffered at the hands of her ex-boyfriend that drove her back into the arms of someone safe, but whatever the reason Tara chose to stay. Since making that decision she’s become mother to two boys she loves dearly, and there is a third on the way. Yep, Tara is with child again, but there is something suspicious about this pregnancy because her happy demeanor on the outside is masking a look of contempt on the inside when Jax discovers this news. We know that Tara is working on an exit strategy and has divorce papers ready to sign, so there has to be a bigger plot at work here right? The tragic path that Tara is walking makes her by far the most sympathetic character on the entire show. I find myself rooting for her to find closure and make the escape she so desperately wants. In all honesty though, I only see her leaving in one way and it’s ominous at best.
While Tara is trying to get out, Jax’s ex Wendy is trying to find her way back in.
Back in the season debut when Wendy rebuffed Tara’s idea to make her a guardian for the boys, she divulged information to Gemma that she actually missed being around the clubhouse and Teller-Morrow garage. The feel of something familiar and maybe the feel of family are drawing Wendy back because she comes up with a story about a junkie attacking her at a Narcotic Anonymous meeting, and threatening to rape her when they find out where she lives. She’s got a nice, big bruise on her neck as proof as well and twice she comes looking for Jax to protect her. But conniving runs at a premium in Charming and after coaxing a free handgun out of Gemma for protection, Wendy runs home and wipes clean the makeup that served as the bruises from her attacker. While her motives aren’t clear yet, it seems like Wendy wants to get close to Jax again, and her longing for the days of bike rallies and gun runs is bringing her right back into the fold where she was just a few years ago.
A quick update on Bobby, who is still recruiting new talent in Nevada to become a NOMAD charter again. He finally has his numbers and he’s ready to make a full split from SAMCRO. Back at the clubhouse during a session of church, Juice reminds Jax that it’s time to reach out to Bobby to see how he’s doing but the president wants no part of extending an olive branch to his former VP. “If Bobby wants to talk, he knows where I am.” That’s the only message that Jax has for him. The more this story unfolds, the more it seems that Bobby may end up playing the role of Fortinbras in this tale of Hamlet on motorcycles. He could be the conquering force sent back in to rescue SAMCRO from the edge where they are so desperately dangling right now.
Jax can only be pulled in so many directions right now and his plate is full and only getting fuller. While he’s trying to contend with opening a new escort service in Stockton, Toric is plotting the club’s downfall and it just got worse because the local district attorney has given him back a badge and named him special investigator. Toric brutally goes after two of Nero’s guys trying to find out information about their leader, and eventually turns back to the prostitute he shot to make sure Nero will cooperate. While Nero is getting some love from Gemma, Toric plants hair and clothing from the dead woman (who has now been found by the sheriff’s department) in his truck, implicating him in the murder. Toric’s psychosis is such that even though he murdered an innocent woman, as he’s chopping off her clothes and pulling hair from her head, he promises to “make this matter”. She may have died, but she won’t be wasted — at least in Toric’s twisted reality.
Jax is also dealing with the fall out from the bust up of the Iranian torture porn warehouse because while meeting with dirty ex-cop Charlie Barosky, his eatery is shot up by machine guns and the trace leads them back to the Iranians. Jax and Barosky settle things (in a rather bloody manner I might add) but they are also clued into why the Iranians are so angry. Amir, the leader hasn’t seen his brother since the raid happened, and they just found his jacket floating in the bay. Jax knows at that moment that something went wrong because the person sent back in to let the final Iranian go that day was Tig. Jax promises Barosky that they let the guy go, and there won’t be any more problems as they look to set up Cara Cara all over again as a legit porn studio. Jax decides to visit his good friend Collette for a little therapy but when he arrives he finds Barosky in her bedroom giving his own brand of confession. Jax and Barosky lock eyes and he leaves. When Collette calls him later, Jax has no interest in talking to her. Despite the fact that she’s a madam, and he’s married, it seems Jax somehow feels betrayed although given his obtuse version of loyalty it’s hard to understand the way he thinks about most things on any given day.
The confessional is a scary place if you allow yourself to be intimidated by it. An enclosed wooden box where you are meant to kneel and tell another man your sins, and he can absolve you of them with a few words of penance or perhaps a Hail Mary, maybe even a moment or two of reflection. As frightening as that place can be, it’s still very easy to lie because who wants anyone to know their deepest, darkest secrets? These are things that can only be present between you and God, there doesn’t need to be a middleman. In SAMCRO, Jax is the priest and Tig is going in for his confessional when he questions his soldier about the missing Iranian. Tig promises that he just let him go without any harm coming to him, and Jax kisses his friend on the cheek professing his love and sending him off to clear out the rest of the porn warehouse so they can set up Cara Cara.
There has never been a clearer death sentence than this moment because if Tig had unburdened his soul, there is a chance that Jax would have spared him, but this was one lie too many and all that was left was for him to be sentenced to his forced repentance. Jax holds a meeting with August to discuss a new business arrangement, which includes the protection he secured for Clay inside so he could use his contacts in the gun business to keep Galen at bay. The deception is like breathing to Jax at this point. The secrets are buried deep, and at some point the lies become half-truths if it serves a greater goal. In this case, Jax lied to Tig the same as Tig lied to him, except this lie will cost him his life. Jax hands over the location where Tig will be clearing out video equipment, and when he turns to look for his brothers he instead finds August and his hit squad who will finally settle Veronica Pope’s death for their fallen leader. Maybe it’s Jax’s words from the end of last season coming true now — “It all comes around Tiggy”. Maybe this is the retribution for Tig’s role in Opie’s wife Donna’s death from a few seasons ago. Maybe his last lie about not killing the Iranian porn peddler was just one too many. Whatever the reason is Jax handed over his brother because there was nowhere else to go.
The sadness in Tig’s eyes was just heartbreaking. He’s been a vicious pitbull for the biggest part of every season, but just like the animal he rescued from a dogfight ring last season, in those calm moments even the wildest beast can be tamed. Tig losing his daughter in such a vicious way last year allowed him to know the kind of pain he inflicted on others, but it also turned loose the uncaged lion that has lived inside him for so many years. It was that beast that killed the Iranian in a moment of rage, and it’s the sad puppy dog nursing his wounds that greeted August and his killers at the end of this episode.
Tig has been a survivor this long, but it’s hard to imagine he’s walking away from this one unscathed without a confessional of his own, and he certainly has a few secrets he could tell…
A couple of other notes about this episode: The two prominent songs featured in this episode were done by music director Bob Thiele’s house band The Forest Rangers. The first was a cover of the classic Sly and the Family Stone track “Everyday People” that closed the episode. The other featured track was called “Running Blues” and it is an original that features the vocals of Jennifer O’Conner. You can hear both tracks –> HERE
Also Kurt Sutter has said that he likes to name his episodes something meaningful to each story told, and they aren’t just throwaways so each week I will try to to decipher the meaning behind the titles. Last week’s title “One-One-Six” was in connection to Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare that Lee Toric quoted while Gemma visited Clay in jail. The title this week wasn’t as clear with the name “Poenitentia” but here goes — the Latin word essentially means regret or repentance. This could allude to Clay’s regret for all the things he’s done that lead him to his supposed death march in prison or it could be the repentance that Tig must now pay after hurting so many while still surviving.
Come back next week for the new episode of Sons of Anarchy on Tuesday night debuting at 10pm ET/PT on FX.